Review: Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Publication: April 15, 2014
One People. One Union. One Future.
Wynne’s entire life is dictated by the Union: the clothes she wears, the books she reads, even the genes she inherited. And like every other girl in the Union, Wynne dreams of being chosen as a Carrier on her 16th birthday—one of the elite selected to carry the future generation within her womb. Wynne and her best friend Odessa are certain they will both make the cut, but when Odessa is chosen and whisked off to a life of privilege, Wynne is left behind to work as an assistant, delivering perfectly planned babies for the Union.
As Odessa slips deeper and deeper into the role of Carrier, Wynne begins to see the Union for what it really is: a society that criminalizes the notion of love, and forbids words like mother and family.
For the first time in her life, Wynne is faced with a choice: submit to the will of the Union, or find a way to escape and save Odessa before she is lost forever.
Many people upon reading the premise would probably compare Deliver Me to The Handmaid's Tale, I know I did. However, upon completing the book I realized this isn't just some carbon copy repackaged for a new generation but instead a book that can stand on its own two feet one both unique yet familiar. Deliver Me while both terrifying and tragic still showed that love and friendship can endure even in the darkest places.
One of the things I found most interesting about the plot is that the Dystopian world seemed to be self contained. We learn through a secondary character that the Union's grasp only reaches so far and that Women adhere to more traditional roles such as being Wives and Mothers not just baby factories to be used and tossed aside as the Union sees fit. Yet... the fact that the character chooses to become a citizen of the Union after an attack on her village leaves me a bit perplexed. Why give up Freedom to Love? To think for yourself? I know the character mentions being a burden to those left but any reason why is left unsaid. I'm sort of thinking this character is being set up for grander things but only time and of course more books will tell.
Another thing I really liked was how the story brought up such heavy handed topics like Nature vs. Nurture, Free thinking vs. Conformity and Love vs. Duty. Deliver Me wasn't just a good book it was a smart book! Personally, I like when a book can entertain me and yet make the reader think about gender roles without feeling preachy. Seeing the state of things in the world today it's not impossible to imagine how easy it would be for a Society like this to take over if we didn't fight for the rights we so justly deserve, not just as Women, but, as equals in a society predominately and traditionally ruled by males.
Lastly, I loved the characters. Wynne is smart, compassionate, brave and loyal. She'll do what is right even if it comes at a great sacrifice to herself. I also loved the secondary characters such as the Head Nurse in the delivery unit who slowly opens up to Wynne about the cruelties suffered by the Carriers and that life isn't all roses and sunshine for them. The whole the Carrier must name the baby is weird though and I wish the story would've expanded on this more.
Now even though I really enjoyed Deliver Me, I did find a few things lacking with the overall story.
First off, I felt that the story did lag a bit when Wynne joins up with Odessa in the back half of the book. I was really hoping to get a better understanding of life for the Carriers but instead everything is implied and not shown. Were told that the mysterious General favors Odessa and visits her whether or not she's fertile but the actual act of him visiting her is done off page. Also the Conceiving Ceremony wasn't quite clear to me. Were all the men taking turns with the girls during it (Wynne mentions feeling someones thighs on her back as she knelt) or were they just giving the girls a blessing during that time? I read that Chapter twice and still am not clear on the what was actually taking place.
Secondly, I wanted to know more about the men who work in and live in the Union. The few we do see are either Generals, Magistrates or Prisoners. It would of been neat seeing how they were chosen to breed and how their lives differed than that of the women. The fact one of them could keep a dog as a pet makes me believe they have much more freedom but again since it isn't shown I could just be grasping at straws.
Deliver Me was a great start to what I hope is a series. Could this be read as a stand alone? Sure, but I definitely feel that too many loose ends were left on the page for it to stay that way. Would I recommend Deliver Me? Yes! The story is fast paced, well written and definitely worth the read. With that being said, I'll be rating Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch ★★★★.
*Copy provided by publisher. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the Author
Kate has loved writing ever since she was a little girl. She wrote her first novel in fourth grade (the main character was suspiciously similar to herself). As an adult, her essays and short stories have been published in Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing, Saint Ann's Review, Scissors and Spackle and in a forthcoming issue of Indiana Review. Her first play, (a man enters), co-written with Elaine Jarvik, was produced in 2011 by Salt Lake Acting Co.